LIVE: THE AMAZING SNAKEHEADS – THE ROADHOUSE, MANCHESTER

In almost no time at all, The Amazing Snakeheads have been catapulted from relative obscurity to one of the most exciting new acts in the UK. After being snapped up by Domino and releasing a string of singles that thrill and make you feel uneasy in equal measure, the time finally came last month for them to unveil their debut album Amphetamine Ballads.

The result is an onslaught of sneering garage rock that perfectly communicates the grit and industrialism of Scotland’s second city. Conjuring images of raucous nights out and hedonistic flat parties within Glasgow’s deepest underbelly, their sound is one laced with aggression and a willingness to force themselves into people’s consciousness.

And that approach seems to have had the desired effect with the album’s accompanying tour seeing tickets fly off the shelves up and down the country. Friday spelled time for The Amazing Snakeheads to a kick off the weekend with a frenzied performance at one of Manchester’s most iconic venues, the Roadhouse.

Support is provided by local trio MiSTOA POLTSA who rattle through a set full of energy, taking a traditional punk sound and putting it through a mangle of distortion before relaying it at a thousand miles an hour. An already excitable audience is left drooling with anticipation for the evening’s headliners.

The Amazing Snakeheads take to the stage to discover the 200-capacity venue is packed to the rafters. Frontman Dale Barclay has almost instantly become recognised as one of the most charismatic band leaders around and does nothing but revel in the hero’s welcome he receives before the Glaswegians launch into Amphetamine Ballads opener ‘I’m a Vampire’.

Although the first reference points to come mind no doubt include grunge and DIY garage rock, there is another dimension to the Snakeheads’ music that tips its hat to the blues and even the pin-prick vocal style of some 70s funk and soul – not that surprising given that Barclay cites James Brown as one of his biggest inspirations.

The five-foot ledge that separates the stage from the standing area at The Roadhouse is a source of joy for Barclay throughout the night, as he basks in the opportunity to climb up on it and bear down at the crowd as he snarls through an hour-long set that bursts with thrilling moments.

Audience members down the front can be seen throwing each other back and forth and feverishly grappling – a scene that will only intensify on Snakeheads tours as they continue to gain notoriety.

Perhaps the biggest reaction of the night is recent single ‘Here It Comes Again’, which peaks and troughs in a way that mirrors stateside legends like Pixies and Nirvana, while ensuring it is still unmistakable which side of the Atlantic they hail from.

Showmen until the end, the Snakeheads play up to their audience weaving in the bassline of the Stone Roses’ ‘I Wanna Be Adored’, before the set comes to a close in explosive fashion. Barclay launches himself into the crowd (much to their delight) and when guitar duties confine him to the stage, he throws his mic into the bear-pit below him, giving the most enthusiastic audience members a chance to add their own vocal renditions to the evening’s closer.

After the band leave the stage to the slightly bizarre soundtrack of Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger though, it seems the vast majority of the room have no intention of making tracks. The Amazing Snakeheads take full pleasure in satisfying the calls for more. All three return shirtless to rattle through the most visceral of encores that even sees more unruly crowd members tear the place apart, ripping down the netting that lines the ceiling of the Roadhouse.

This Glaswegian juggernaut has been gathering momentum to an extent that means there might not be too many more opportunities to catch them in venues of such intimacy, but tonight we have seen the whites of their eyes throughout – and it has been nothing short of exhilarating.

Patrick Davies

Subscribe to our newsletter
Delivering curated content